30 September 2006

Happy birthday to me!

I'm not sure how I came to make my own birthday cake this year--usually it magically appears at a lunch or a dinner. It's never anything ornate -- when certain people listen to me, it's a simple chocolate or vanilla cake (sometimes marble), when certain people don't listen to me it turns into a black forest cherry layer cake (which, btw, I absolutely detest). It always arrives with a certain number of candles, and an interesting rendition of happy birthday...off-pitch, off-tempo...but who really notices, right?

For those of you who've been reading me for a while, you know how much I adore chocolate. It really is the perfect celebratory food, and (at least to me) synonymous with joy. You also know how much I like cooking from Nigella's books. For the past few years, my office treats have been based from one of her many, many fabulous recipes. Last year I made her
Chocolate Guinness Cake, a few years back I made her dense chocolate loaf. There were others, but I can't remember them all...This year, the treats I made for the office was her Honey Chocolate Cake, but as cuppycakes (or as I renamed them, Nigella's Chocolate Hunnycakes).

So a few weeks ago, when I was deciding what should be made for my home celebration was a little difficult. I mean, I knew it would be a chocolate cake of some sort, but which one? There were so many in Nigella's books that I'd love to try, but another book called out to me.

Actually...I used my birthday as the excuse to buy another cookbook:
Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes. It beckoned me for weeks...it truly was love at first site.

Maybe it was the decadence of the gold dust on the accompanying photograph that caught my eye (hey, I make no apologies for adoring gold and chocolate), but it was fairly easy for me to settle on their Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake. Even though the strains of Goldfinger rang in my mind, I decided against buying some gold dust, instead opting a much simpler presentation of a dusting of whiter than white icing sugar on the almost abyss-like blackness of the cake, along with a dollop of coffee-flavoured double cream.

The cake is very easy to make and I had no problems with any of it. I took the author's advice and made it a day in advance and put it in the fridge after it had cooled to get a wickedly dense and fudgey texture. It is a flourless cake, so it's perfect for any chocoholic who happens to be on a gluten-free diet.

And the taste? Simply magnificent. I used a combination of 86% and 70% cocoa-solids chocolate, which imparted a very Barry White-like quality to the cake...girls, you know what I mean.

Green & Black's Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake (p153)

Serves 10

1 tbsp ground almonds plus extra for dusting the cake tin
a little melted butter to help the ground almonds coat the tin
300g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
275g caster sugar (fruit sugar)
165g unsalted butter
pinch of vanilla salt
5 extra-large eggs
icing sugar for dusting

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 20 or 23 cm/8" or 9" springform baking tin, or any other tin with removable sides by brushing it with the melted butter and dusting it with some of the ground almond. Shake off any excess and set aside.
  • Melt the chocolate, sugar, butter and salt on top of a double boiler and remove from heat.
  • Whisk together the eggs with the one tablespoon of ground almonds and fold into the melted chocolate. After a few minutes, it will thickend. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  • Let cool on a rack before popping it into the fridge.
  • To serve, dust with the icing sugar.

  • This cake will not rise much, but will poof and then fall, creating a slight crater-like effect.
  • You can try mixing in some good quality flavoured dark chocolate as part of the 300g. G&B's recommends orange-flavoured, but I suppose raspberry would work nicely as well.
  • This is a very rich cake, so be forewarned.

edit: Just a quick note for those who are getting confuzzed...I'm doing a catch up on this month's wining and dining. Far too many meals and not enough posting time!



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Anonymous said...

It is my sweet Jasmine's birthday ... well happy birthday to you! I'm sending you a huge hug. Enjoy the cake!

Anonymous said...

Otanjoobi Omedetoo Gozaimasu! (Happy Birthday!) Best wishes and enjoy your cake :)

Sam said...

Happy Birthday Jasmine! I hope you have a wonderful birthday weekend, you deserve it. Your September celebrations and feasts all look fantastic, thanks for sharing!

Rachel said...

Yummy cake=Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! I always have to make my birthday cake, no one wants to bake for me.
Looks like a great chocolate cake.

jasmine said...

Hello all

Thanks for your well wishes. The cake was amazingly good. The food was amazingly good. My self control was amazingly bad, resulting in a snugger-than-normal fit to my wardrobe :)


Jen said...

Happy Birthday, your chocolate cake is divine!
Hope you got you fix of gold and chocolate on your birthday! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a bit late for the festivities, but Happy Birthday! Fabulous looking cake!

Lis said...

Happy belated birthday, Jasmine! Your cake looks sinfully delicious - and I'm kinda glad you had to make your own this year ;)

Quick questions.. what is vanilla salt and if I didn't have ground almonds could I sub something else?

jasmine said...

Hello all

JenJen -- Can anyone ever have enough chocolate...or enough gold?

Gilly -- Thanks :)

Lis -- Yeah, well...who knows what would have happened if I let others take it over...there were certain glints... WRT vanila salt: think of it as vanilla sugar, but with salt. You can buy it, but I've made it by adding vanilla pods to sea salt, and just letting the flavours meld. I suppose you could substitute any other nut for the almonds. For the dusting you could use cocoa powder.